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FROM THIS EPISODE

The opium poppy is financing the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but President Hamid Karzai is protecting opium traffic in order to stay in office. We hear dramatic claims by a high-level US official who can tell his story now that's resigned.  Also, Also, Alaska Senator Ted Stevens has been indicted, a down-at-the-heels part of Louisiana may be transformed by new riches from natural gas.


Banner image: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

Producers:
Dan Konecky
Karen Radziner
Christian Bordal

Making News Senator Ted Stevens Indicted 8 MIN, 33 SEC

The longest-serving Republican in the US Senate has been indicted on seven criminal charges. He's Alaska's Ted Stevens, accused of falsely reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars in services for home renovation. The Justice Department says he took approximately $250,000 from the VECO Corporation and misled investigators who were looking into his relationship with that firm. Michael Carey is host of Anchorage Edition on public radio station KSKA in Anchorage.

Guests:
Michael Carey, Host, 'Anchorage Edition'

Main Topic Afghanistan's Poppy Quagmire 32 MIN, 23 SEC

Opium from Afghanistan is responsible for 90% of the world's heroin. It's the cash crop that's enabling resurgence of the fundamentalist Taliban. But the State Department's former coordinator for counter-narcotics says that the Karzai government, supported by the US, depends on opium, too. He claims that Karzai is protecting the drug trade to assure his re-election next year. Is growing opium poppies the only way poverty-stricken farmers can make a living, or is that a myth perpetrated to cover up incompetence and corruption? Does aerial spraying pose a greater threat to the Taliban or the Karzai administration? 

Guests:
Thomas Schweich, Former Coordinator for Counter-Narcotics in Afghanistan, US State Department
Paul Burton, Director of Policy Analysis, International Council on Security and Development
Rand Beers, Informal advisor to Barack Obama

Reporter's Notebook From Rags to Riches in Louisiana 7 MIN, 58 SEC

Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle says personal checks for $70,000 a month will change his life. Bank worker Linda Whatley says her "retirement horizon has gotten shorter." These are just two people who've cashed in on what could be the biggest natural-gas deposit in the continental US. The Chesapeake and Petrohawk Energy corporations are spreading money all over a part of Louisiana that hasn't had a break since the oil boom went bust some 25 years ago. Adam Nossiter is a national correspondent for the New York Times.

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